Welcome to the November edition of my Lewisham East Newsletter.
I have a sense of deja vu writing this Newsletter because the Conservative Party have yet again chucked out their leader and installed a new one. It is simply scandalous that we have had 4 Prime Ministers in 5 years. This is no way to run a government! In fact, they are totally inadequate. We must have a general election as the country simply cannot afford the Conservatives in power any longer.
In my Newsletter I will also discuss the state of our NHS, my work as Chair of the APPG of Sickle Cell and Thalassemia, the launch of the Birmingham and Lewisham African and Caribbean Health Inequalities Review (BLACHIR), my visit to Phoenix Community Housing, Southeastern Timetable changes and Labour’s National Campaign Weekend.
As ever I am wanting to hear from constituents, so if there is anything that you would like to make me aware of, please email me via janet.daby.mp@parliament.
Conservative Party Chaos
When Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister last month, I was disgusted at how the Conservatives feel they can run this country as if it was some sort of political game. The chaos that the Tories have created may not have much impact on them personally, but it has caused more hardship and distress for many in Lewisham East. At a time when we have seen over a decade of Local Authority cuts.
The Bank of England announced yet another rise in interest rates. This means that mortgages on a tracker rate will rise by hundreds of pounds a year. It is a disgrace that nearly 10,000 households in the borough of Lewisham will face higher mortgage rates in 2023, and the situation for renters is no better. It is vital that the Labour Party does not let the Government off the hook. It was Liz Truss and her Chancellor who carried out an act of economic self-sabotage. It was clear to me that large unfunded tax cuts would not work. As a result, we have been left with high inflation, the devaluing of the pound, pension funds plummeting.
When Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, he promised to instil “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” of his government. His actions, however, have not matched his words. I was amazed that one of the new Prime Minister’s appointments was Suella Braverman. Not only had she resigned for leaking market sensitive documents, but once in post she prevented the mass-booking of hotel rooms for asylum seekers who were being held at the Manston processing facility. As result these asylum seekers are enduring overcrowding and squalid living conditions. Her language on immigration by claiming the south coast of England is being invaded by asylum seekers is also appalling.
Suella Braverman’s appointment highlights that Rishi Sunak had to do a series of grubby deals to gain power. His administration is far from professional, and it does not have integrity. This was clearly shown when he flip-flopped on going to COP27. We are in a climate crisis, and we need a Prime Minister who takes this issue seriously.
Personally, I have had enough. In Prime Minister’s Questions I told the Prime Minister, that we have had 12 years of Conservative failure and we need a general election now so we can have a Labour Government this country deserves.
You can see my question at PMQs here.
The National Health Service
Next year the NHS will turn 75 years. It has served the people of this country admirably well. Yet since the Conservatives took power in 2010 it has declined in several ways. Following Liz Truss taking a wrecking ball to the economy, Jeremy Hunt is set to impose austerity 2.0. Whilst the Government have said health spending will not be cut in the autumn statement, it is expected to find efficiencies. This is a cut and is not in the interests of patients or healthcare staff.
Last week, the Royal College of Nursing balloted 300,000 nurses on whether to strike is damning indictment on how the Conservatives have treated health workers over the past 12 years. I will not be afraid to stick up for our health service. Last week I spoke out twice in the House of Commons calling for better for our NHS workers as well improvements in their working conditions.
Sickle Cell and Thalassemia APPG
In July I was honoured to be elected Chair of the Sickle Cell and Thalassemia APPG. There are currently around 12,500–15,000 people with sickle cell disease in England. Last year the APPG on published the ‘No One’s Listening’ report. The report highlighted the largely negative and traumatic experiences of sickle cell patients in the UK when they go into a healthcare setting.
Some of the recommendations of the report have been acted upon, whilst many others haven’t. Since becoming the Chair I have met with healthcare bodies and various other organisations to ensure that the recommendations will be implemented in full.
I also am actively pursuing a meeting with the new Health and Social Care Secretary to discuss various issues. This will include APPG’s report but also remove prescription charges for sickle cell medicines, helping sickle cell patients during the cost-of-living crisis and to call for more black donors to give blood to people with sickle cell.
People with sickle cell have for too long suffered in silence. My goal as Chair is to ensure that people with sickle cell have similar access to a wide variety of treatments and with healthcare staff having a greater understanding of the disorder.
The launch of the BLACHIR report
Last month it was great to be joined by the Mayor of Lewisham, Damian Egan and Cllr Juliet Campbell for the launch of the Birmingham and Lewisham African & Caribbean Health Inequalities Review (BLACHIR). This was launched alongside Paulette Hamilton MP and Birmingham City Council. The report gathered evidence on health inequalities within Black African and Caribbean communities in Lewisham and Birmingham. It is vital that the recommendations are pushed forwards and this is something I am keen to stay on top of.
To read the report click the link here.
Over the summer you have been aware that TfL were consulting on a range of bus cuts. In Lewisham East this would have impacted people using 53, 171 and 47 routes going into central London. I was therefore pleased to read in the local press that TfL and Sadiq Khan are now thinking against these cuts. Whilst I have every sympathy with the Mayor and how the Government have held TfL to random over their funding, it’s important that local people’s access to transport is either improved or maintained and certainly not cut. I will follow developments closely.
Visit to Phoenix Community Housing
Last month I was given a tour around some Phoenix estates and planned developments. This community housing association owns and manages more than 7,500 homes in the Lewisham wards of Bellingham, Catford South, Downham and Grove Park. It was therefore important for me to visit and meet with this housing association and understand the views of residents as well as the association itself.
Southeastern Timetable changes
Many constituents are rightly concerned about the Southeastern timetable changes. The timetable will see train cuts for Blackheath, Grove Park and Hither Green stations. As well as Catford Bridge. I have written to the Southeastern and the Department for Transport. Southeastern replied that the new timetable considered that passenger numbers are down compared to pre-pandemic numbers, and it would ease congestion on the lines. The Department for Transport replied saying that because of the pandemic they have allowed Southeastern to make changes without the need for consultation. You can view these responses via this here.
I am not impressed with these replies, and neither was I impressed with Steve White, Southeastern’s Managing Director pulling out of Lewisham’s Public Transport Liaison Committee at the last minute. To register your displeasure, I would encourage you to sign Lewisham’s Labour’s petition on this matter.
Thank you for reading this Newsletter.